Theology & Philosophy

Liberty and Responsibility for Human Nature


The colloquium considered theories about human nature and their implications for a society of free and responsible individuals using readings drawn largely from philosophical anthropologies, but also from biology and psychology. In trying to live together peacefully, are we fighting nature or cooperating with it? Do we become morally responsive and responsible creatures by dint of our passions, our reason, or some combination of the two?


Conference Readings

Hobbes, Thomas. LEVIATHAN, printed for Andrew Crooke, at the Green Dragon in St. Paul’s Churchyard 1651. (The Project Gutenberg EBook of Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes, downloaded from

Aristotle. Selections from DE AMINA, NICOMACHEAN ETHICS, and POLITICS (downloaded from

Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.

Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896. (accessed April 28, 2016).

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature [reprinted from the original edition in three volumes]. Edited by L. A. Selby-Bigge, M. A. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896.

Reid, Thomas. Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1969.

Ridley, Matt. The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture. New York: Harper Collins, 2003, 2004.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1992.

Tomasello, Michael. A Natural History of Human Thinking. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014.